The guy in this old, blurry photograph looks like he could be asking this question. "She's pretty, but she sure don't dance like my mama taught me!"
Romantic relationships are baffling. I mean really people, how in the hell?!
I complicated things, as if potential relationships weren’t complicated enough, and always before they ever began. Thus I decided, and successfully managed I might add, to steer clear of them my entire adolescence and beyond, until now, at the dawning of my twenty-seventh year. How I was able to sustain such a lifestyle, for some, is incomprehensible.
The deep ruts of my single habits began to level-out not long after meeting her (which, I am fully aware, is a distasteful flaunting-of-a-sentence to any even mildly pessimistic single person!). But don’t get me wrong; I still overthought it all.
The big obstacle in the beginning was figuring out if I liked her, which was something I, as the man, had to conclude, and fast, according to the advice of friends, pastors, and other voices from within the evangelical blogosphere.
Yet, no matter how many times I heard this, that the guy has to get his shit together and decide if he likes her, as to not play with her heart, I had difficulty stomaching it.
Not wanting to “lead her on” and other Christian dating failures, I started obsessing about these questions: “Am I interested?” “Do I like her?” “Am I intrigued?”
Bla, bla, bla, whatever!
These questions were about as helpful as a fork in a sugar bowl. They fell flat and left an eerie echo in my head. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the hell I would want to base my decision to “pursue” this girl on an answer to a question that was ultimately about me.
Granted I can’t just extract myself from the equation. I am a part of this potential relationship. But there’s no way I was going to be satisfied grounding my decision solely on how I felt. And yet I was stumped. I couldn’t think of anything better.
I started asking co-workers, if given a chance, about what they thought were good reasons to start a romantic relationship. Wow, lots of interesting answers came in, which left me all the more baffled, until a better question finally arrived at me.
Where did it come from? I don’t know. All that matters is that its simplicity graced the contours of my thoughts and whose answer gave me the confidence to, finally, move forward - and thank God I did.
Instead of those self-centered questions - whose answers, I hope you realize, have no substantial consequences for the girl - what about this: Would I sacrifice my life for her?
Hear me out. I’m not talking about taking a bullet for her, although that may not be a bad question to ask either. It’s more subtle. Would I lay down my life - habits, space, time, meritocracy, even dreams - to be with her?
For some it might be too early to tell. For me: lightbulb!
I was lucky. I had been getting to know this girl via email for nearly six months before I learned to ask this question. I knew her well. And what I knew I loved. I loved her dreams to help broken, hurting people, to contribute to people’s good. I loved her passion for listening to other’s stories and being compelled to weave the thread of God’s grace across hearts once broken. I loved her excitement for travel, books, and ideas. I loved her past, though grossly painful at points, her present, and where she saw herself down the road.
Did I like her? Definitely. But more importantly, I realized I was, and am, willing to support her story and hopes and dreams to the point of laying my life down, that she might flourish and live her dreams.
It was that question and that answer that turned things on for me, that made clear what was before muddied.
Yes, I want to be with her.